Milk allergy

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People who are allergic to cow's milk react to one or more of the proteins in it. Curd, the substance that forms chunks in sour milk, contains 80% of milk's proteins, including several called caseins. Whey the watery part of milk, holds the other 20%. A person may be allergic to proteins in either or both parts of milk.


Why should I be aware of this?

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We need to pay attention to what we eat because so many foods are made with milk and milk products these days. It is obvious that foods like pizza contain milk, but there are others, such as baked goods also contain milk. As teenagers need more milk for its calcium and Vitamin D, they should be extra careful about it, if allergic to milk.

Like food allergies, milk allergy reactions also take place within minutes to hours after eating foods that contain milk proteins. Most reactions last less than a day and may have the following effects:

  • Red, bumpy rashes (hives), eczema, or redness and swelling form around the mouth
  • Belly cramps, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • Runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, and sneezing to the triggering of asthma with coughing and wheezing

Apart from these some may have a very strong reaction called anaphylaxis which is a severe allergic reaction causing swelling of the mouth, throat, and airways leading to the lungs, resulting in an inability to breathe. Often there are also dangerous drop in blood pressure.

All about milk allergy

Milk is very high in protein and allergy occurs when the immune system is activated following the ingestion of milk proteins. So far twenty-five proteins in milk have been identified as being capable of provoking allergy. Reactions can be very violent, they can occur instantly or within an hour of ingesting of the food.

Factors involved

  • The incidence of allergy occuring is greater if both parents have allergy


  • The amount of cow's milk consumed relative to body weight;
  • Frequency of exposure;
  • The immaturity of the digestive tract in children may result in an increased absorption of antigens;
  • Diet history e.g. infant formula vs breast feeding;
  • Health status (presence of digestive)


Symptoms include a life threatening anaphylactic reaction, other symptoms include throat swelling, violent vomiting, diarrhea, asthma, sneezing, rhinitis, sinusitis, angioedema (localised) swelling, redness of the eyes, hives, eczema.

Standard testing procedure for milk allergy is a skin prick test or RAST test (blood test). If you know eating dairy foods causes your health problems and it has not shown on allergy testing … you may have a milk intolerance.

What can I do about it

  • Consult a nutritionist who can help you find milk-free foods that will give you the nutrition you need to stay healthy.
  • When eating out find out about the ingredients in a menu item before you order it.
  • Read food labels and stay up-to-date with food products as food manufacturers keep changing their labels. Remember the ingredients for products you consume al the time may also change.


Though it is believed that milk allergy is common in reality only 2-5% of infants are born with milk allergy and 80% outgrow it by the time they are 6 years old. Milk allergy is also sometimes confused with lactose intolerance. Milk allergy is an allergic problem, and lactose intolerance is the inability to digest the lactose sugar commonly found in milk. The symptoms of lactose intolerance are usually diarrhea, cramping, and gas.


  • Milk allergy
  • Milk Allergy: A Guide for Teens